Persona Super Live 2015 -Night of the Phantom-
Persona Super Live in Nippon Budokan -Night of the Phantom- (CD/DVD/Blu-ray)
LNCM-1115/6 (CD), LNBM-1113/4 (DVD), LNXM-1112 (Blu-ray)
August 26, 2015
Buy at CDJapan (CD/DVD/Blu-ray)
Persona Super Live 2015 ~in Nippon Budokan -Night of the Phantom- is a recording of the concert of the same name, held February 5, 2015. The concert highlights tracks from Persona 4 and Persona 3, including songs from their various spin-offs, with many tracks from Persona4: Dancing All Night, Persona Q, and the Persona 4 Arena titles being performed for the first time here. The concert was released on Blu-ray and DVD, as well as on a 2CD set containing all of the tracks performed.
The concert begins bombastically with “Dance!” performed for the first time from Persona 4: Dancing All Night. As it will be with most of the other songs, the arrangement isn’t changed all that much from the original, but the live vocals of Shihoko Hirata and Lotus Juice with the live band naturally give these renditions a different feel, often being more dynamic and sounding more organic (especially with the solo instruments), though not balanced quite as crisply and with audible audience cheering at times. There is a bit of new instrumentation, namely the electric guitar and the deeper drums, but the original arrangements are already so filled out that these changes don’t affect the song that noticeably. Visually there are some dancers on the stage alongside the singers who are serviceable, not spectacular (and it is sort of amusing to watch Lotus Juice half-dancing throughout),. The lights are fairly active with more decorations on stage, so the production is quite a step up above concerts. The filming is also well done and dynamic, and the video quality is great on the Blu-ray. It’s a great performance of the track, but admittedly altogether not significantly different from the original.
Things continue in the same manner from here. The new tracks “Break Out Of…” and “MAZE OF LIFE” from the other Persona 4 spin-offs are performed, each sounding great, and with Yumi Kawamura joining the stage on the latter. Kawamura’s vocals sound particularly raw when she sings live, and it adds much to the experience that is otherwise still very close to the original tracks. These first three tracks are also very well suited for the live setting, with plenty of energy and opportunity for some audience participation. After, a short MC segment leads into some Persona 3 tracks, “Mass Destruction” and “Burn my Dread”. These tracks still aren’t changed much, but the former does feel especially beefed up in its sound here, and the latter’s vocals feel notably more passionate now, with the violin solo sounding great as well.
Another short humorous MC segment involving tour goods and a large cardboard cut-out brings us back to the Persona 4 tracks. “Pursuing My True Self” is a standard performance by this point, but the others after feel a bit more significant. “Your Affection” matches the Never More arrangement of the track, which was more suited for live performance than the original. The vocal sounds very different in a live setting, but still good, and there’s a new guitar solo as well. It’s wonderful and pleasing to see the harmonica of “Shadow World” played live, and the dancers return here (but again, not really doing all that much for the song). “Mist” allows the singers to take a bit of a break as it is an instrumental track, but that doesn’t make it less engaging than the other songs, as it is a great performance. It is bolstered by the piano and violin, but it is a shame that the mixing on the violin was not better, since it is clearly being played very passionately, but it isn’t heard very well until the end of the track.
A short MC leads to the return of Persona 3 tracks, and appropriately “Laser Beam” introduces a new set of lights into the staging that make the visuals of the concert much more engaging. The dancers are back, and the visual elements all come together a bit more cohesively than it had up to this point. “Fate in Our Hands” and “Dazzling Smile” follow in this vein, but with more emphasis on rock than the originals, along with some nice new instrumental solos. At the end of this things strip down as Kawamura returns in a dress for a raw rendition (perhaps a bit too shaky for some tastes) of “One Hand, One Heartbeat”, accompanied only by the piano. I’ll admit the audience cheering for the first time felt rather intrusive here, though they drop out once the vocals come in.
Next is an instrumental “P4U and P4U2” medley (the two Persona 4 Arena games), including “Battle Hymn of the Soul”, “Shadows of the Labyrinth”, “A Fool or Clown?”, and “Heartful Cry”. The solo instruments sound great here, and a few additions are made that are also welcome such as the inclusion of brass in some tracks. It is otherwise straightforward, but it’s a nice inclusion for the concert. After another short MC segment, the concert goes into a set of lighter tracks, beginning with “Never More”, which involves a bit of fun audience singalong and extended solos. “changing me” is performed for the first time here, in a straightforward but enjoyable light performance. “Memories of You” benefits from its new solos, namely from the saxophone and violin. Another MC bit leads into the more upbeat “Time to Make History”, which also includes band introductions and solos. The dancers return for the arranged “Deep Breath Deep Breath” next, and it sounds particularly great in its live setting. There’s a humorous finish to the song, and then a short MC before the closing song, also performed for the first time, “Today”. The visual elements here go all out, and the immense energy ends things on a high note, even if the song isn’t is unique as most other Persona series tracks.
The crew returns for an encore with “Light the Fire Up in the Night”, both “DARK HOUR” and “MIDNIGHT” versions from Persona Q. Both tracks are energetic and a lot of fun, giving solid reason for the light show to continue on. A final bit of MC brings us to the last track of the night, “Reach Out to the Truth”. There is plenty more to be had here in terms of audience interaction and instrumental solos, ending the show with a sure crowd-pleaser.
Even at the finish, a bit more is in store for the audience, who are treated to the Persona 5 trailer. Its inclusion in the DVD and Blu-ray editions is a bit superfluous since the trailer is now widely available, but it was nice of them to include it to see the excitement of the audience and their reaction. Also included in the video editions is a 20-minute behind-the-scenes segment, including rehearsal clips, insight into the staging and concept, some backstage from the niconico stream, post-concert clips, and final comments from the performers. It’s always neat to see these, and the extensiveness of the segment is much appreciated.
Persona Super Live 2015 ~in Nippon Budokan -Night of the Phantom- is a solid concert of Persona series music. The budget is higher than ever, and it shows in the increased quality of the production from staging to lights, outfits, and even dancers. That said, there still isn’t anything that is a must-see in the visual presentation, and the arrangements are still nearly identical to their original counterparts, benefitting mainly from a more organic and energetic sound, though at the cost of a cleaner mix that one finds in studio versions. The setlist covers all of the great tracks of the later entries in the series, and the inclusion of the newer tracks is also great to see. The 2CD set isn’t likely to contain anything that is of interest to those who already own the game soundtracks, but the DVD and Blu-ray is certainly among the best of the existing concert productions for the series. Hopefully in the future a bit more will be changed up in terms of arrangement, but until then this set presents a great time in the Persona universe.
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Posted on November 19, 2015 by Christopher Huynh. Last modified on November 19, 2015.